Bischwiller leads in French Team Championship

by Johannes Fischer
5/30/2018 – From May 26 to June 5 the French Team Championships are played in the town of Brest, in the west of France. The counting method of the championship is unusual: the winning team gets 3 points, a draw yields 2 points, and a loss is still rewarded with 1 point, just for showing up. Of course if you lose by default that's punished with 0 points. After four rounds, Bischwiller leads with 12 points, followed by Grasse Echecs with 11 points (three wins, one draw), and three teams with 10 points each.

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Bischwiller with a strong start

The French Team Championships is a 12-team round-robin tournament that attracts a lot of strong players but the competition is not as strong as, for example, the top German League. In contrast to the Bundesliga where each team can nominate as many foreign players as it deems fit (and can afford) the French limit the number of foreign players. In fact, when SG Solingen and the OSG Baden-Baden played a tie-break match for the title of German Team Champion at the end of May, not a single German player made it to the line-up of the two teams. But at the French Team Championships, at least five players in every team have to be French or live in France if they come from countries of the European Union. Moreover, each team has to nominate at least one woman for every match.

Joining the action in Brest: chess journalist Fiona Steil-Antoni | Photo: French Chess Federation

With Etienne Bacrot, currently number two in France (behind Maxime Vachier-Lagrave), Romain Edouard (No. 5), Sebastien Maze (No. 6), and Jean-Pierre Le Roux (No. 14) the current table leader Bischwiller has four strong French players in its team and they are joined by foreign top players such as Markus Ragger, Arkadij Naiditsch, Yannick Pelletier, and Maxim Rodshtein.

With this line-up, Bischwiller is one of the favourites. So far, the team did not disappoint and Bischwiller won the first four matches with 4-1 (only decisive games are counted), 2-0, 1-0, and 7-0. But there are still seven rounds to go and Bischwiller has not yet played against the strong teams of Clichy Echecs 92 (15-times winner of the French Championships), Grasse Echecs, and Mulhouse.

Standings after four rounds

Pl. Equipe Pts j. d. p. c.
1 Bischwiller 12 4 13 14 1
2 Grasse Echecs 11 4 3 5 2
3 Clichy Echecs 92 10 4 8 12 4
4 Mulhouse Philidor 10 4 12 16 4
5 Bois Colombes 10 4 4 10 6
6 Metz Fischer 8 4 5 10 5
7 T H F Saint-Quentin 8 4 -6 9 15
8 Nice Alekhine 7 4 1 7 6
9 Evry Grand Roque 6 4 -5 4 9
10 Tremblay en France 5 4 -5 6 11
11 Vandoeuvre Echecs 5 4 -10 4 14
12 Cemc Monaco 4 4 -20 2 22

Games of Rounds 1-4

 

With an Elo-rating of 2727 Czech Grandmaster David Navara is nominally the strongest player in this year's competition.

David Navara | Photo: French Chess Federation

Navara plays for Mulhouse Philidor and started with two wins (against Alexander Riazantsev and Deimante Cornette), a loss (against Hicham Hamdouchi), and a draw (against the young German Alexander Donchenko). Against Riazantsev Navara once again showed his flair for dynamic positions.

A. Riazantsev - D. Navara

 

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Navara was recently a guest on Ben Johnson's Perpetual Chess Podcast


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Johannes was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".
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